tv Today NBC March 23, 2011 9:00am-10:00am EDT
we're back now with more of "today" on a wednesday morning, march 23, 2011. a sloppy day in new york city. but we have some die hards out there braving the nasty weather. we appreciate that. meanwhile inside studio 1a i'm matt lauer along with ann curry and al roker. we are not the onlyrea of the country getting slammed by strange spring weather. a powerful storm system spawned tornadoes, golf ball-sized hail and even blizzard conditions in the midwest is now headed to this area. some areas, according to mr. roker to my right, could receive up to a foot of snow. happy spring. >> oh, boy. >> spring is coming, everybody. right? eventually?
>> we'll find out what's happening in your neck of the woods coming up. >> on our today's money 911 our expert panel helps with your financial emergencies from what to do if you sell your home at a significant loss to what you want to do when you buy a new one and how to balance investments in your 401-k. we have advice for your pocketbook. and then how healthy is the bedroom? from creating a romantic roux -- mood. >> roux? >> mix together butter and flour and spread it on the sheets. to allergens like dust mites -- i guess it could have been kanga and roo. >> we want to show you the latest youtube sensation. take a look. he's a 5-month-old baby named emerson. he's freaked out by the sound of mom blowing her nose and then delighted. and then all over again, freaked
out. we'll hear from them coming up. pause, pause. [ blowing nose ] >> beautiful little boy. >> we are now abusing this little boy. natalie is at the news desk for ann. >> good morning, even. it may be officially spring but depending where you live it may notal feel like it yet. mike seidel is in fargo, north dakota, with the latest there. looks cold where you are, mike. >> reporter: yeah, spring takes on a different meaning in fargo, natalie. the snow is winding down. they shoveled over 80 inches in fargo, twice the seasonal average. look around the state yesterday and today. the snow comes down with wind. over 14 inches in parts of the state. schools are closed again today in fargo. this storm shut down parts of two major interstates, i-29 and i-94. this prolongs the inevitable. the snow has to melt and end up
in the red river. major flooding for april. an updated forecast this week. city officials are putting on hold the distribution of 4 million sandbags. they will sit in the warm warehouses until then. if there is one thing i noticed it's spring, so the snow piles here in fargo aren't as tall as they were a couple of months ago. that's a good sign. back to you. >> mike seidel in fargo, north dakota, thank you very much. we're getting word that legendary actress elizabeth taylor has died in los angeles. she was 79 years old. she was battling many health problems over the years. more details later on. nato said it will start using warships to enforce a united nations arms embargo against libya. also, u.s.-led coalition aircraft attack a base used by moammar gadhafi's forces to strike at the rebel-held city of misrata. president obama flies home from el salvador today and says a
plan to hold off the leadership role in libya will go into effect this week. radiation levels in tokyo's water supply are now too high for infants. they are telling parents to use bottled water instead. meantime workers trying to stop radiation leaks at a damaged nuclear power plant were temporarily evacuated today when smoke rose from the complex again. detroit's population has plummeted by 25% over the past decade. this according to startling new census data. the former industrial powerhouse now has the smallest population its had since 1910. google's plan to digitize every book ever published and distribute them online has been rejected by a federal judge. over 15 million books have been scanned in the project that would have created the largest digital library and bookstore. the judge cited copy right and anti-trust laws as his primary concerns. the federal government may have to rewrite rules for city
buses. they may raise the weight allowance from 150 to 170 pounds per rider which could mean fewer people allowed on each bus. a boston woman thought she'd lost her beloved dog lola when a fire tore through the home a month ago. when she returned to the property she heard scratching and cryi inin ining behind a do. sure enough there was lola. she will recover but after a month alone her owner said she was one hungry pup. poor lola. e's cute. glad she's home safe and sound. five minutes past the hour. let's turn it over to al with a look at the weather. >> thanks, natalie. again, we have big storms to talk about. this one stretches from the dakotas where you can see snow falling. the snow will be light. you saw mike seidel showing you it was about over. one to three inches generally. we have a risk of strong storms, especially in kentucky, west
virginia, ohio, virginia where we could have a risk of tornadoes as well. then up into the great lakes we are looking at more snow pushing in. that's going to be anywhere from three to six inches of snow. here in the northeast, parts of up state new york, new jersey and parts of pennsylvania are going to see anywhere from six to 12 inches of snow before it's over. >> we are going to see showers on this wednesday. maybe a little lightning. thunderstorms likely overnight. thunderstorms likely overnight. that's your latest weather.
>> we are all sitting here reacting to the terrible news from los angeles that elizabeth taylor has passed away. legend is a word that's overused. this is a legend. think about her film career, her career as a businesswoman, her incredible work on behalf of people with aids raising awareness and raising millions and millions of dollars for the treatment and possibilitiablele the disease. >> it will be interesting to see how history remembers a woman who will be remembered as one of the most beautiful women ever with those beautiful eyes. "cat on a hot tin roof". >> "cleopatra". >> "who's afraid of virginia woolf." but i think you're right. she will be remembered for her work with hiv/aids. she was a major supporter at a time when americans were afraid of even touching someone with hiv/aids. she was a voice to say this is
not how we treat people who are sick. >> we are finding out she died of congestive heart failure. she's been out of the spotlight over the last decade or so, not really making so many appearances. but we hear she was surrounded by family. >> her four children, ten grandchildren, four great-grandchildren. michael wilding, her son, said my mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest with passion and love. her loss is devastating to those of us who held her close. we will bel always inspired by her contribution to our world. her on going success as a businesswoman and her brave advocacy in the fight against hiv/aids all make us proud of what she accomplished. >> that's right. she's a legend in her work and a legend as a human being. >> that's right. for more on her life and legacy, here's nbc's michael oku. >> reporter: she was one of the last of the green goddesses from hollywood's golden age.
born in london to american parents in 1932, elizabeth taylor moved to los angeles just before the outbreak of world war ii. small roles in movies like "jane eyre" and "lassie come home" led to her first leading role at 12 in "national velvet". >> father, he's a lovely thing. you should see him. he never puts a foot wrong. >> who? >> the new horse. i'm in love with him. >> reporter: at 18, taylor showed her acting range as a spoiled socialite in "a place in the sun." >> i'll go on loving you for as long as i live. >> reporter: nominated multiple times for the best actress academy award in such roles as the ignored wife in "cat on a hot tin roof". >> not by the crowds, baby, by you. by the man i worshipped. that's why i hated skipper. >> reporter: and the confused
murder witness in "suddenly last summer summer." oscar finally came calling for the role of a call girl in "butterfield 8". >> you can't have everything in life. >> reporter: and again for a drunken and abusive wife. >> oh, boy. you're having a field day. >> reporter: her life was as dramatic as her roles on screen. married eight times. actor richard burton, her costar, became her husband twice. >> i have had everything. i have had my share of joy, pain, luck, rough times. >> reporter: taylor struggled with health problems throughout her life. near fatal bouts of pneumonia, substance abuse issues and a brain tumor. she survived them all. >> either you look forward to waking up or you don't. i do. >> these have always brought me
luck. >> reporter: as the acting career waned she embarked on personal ventures. launching a perfume empire and publishing a best-selling diet book after years of struggling with weight problems. but her later years were defined by her crusade to focus the world's attention on aids. >> the government is not doing enough. they should be spending billions. >> reporter: last seen publically at her friend michael jackson's funeral in september. she survived by four children and nine grandchildren. elizabeth taylor was 77 years old. nbc news, los angeles. >> i think she was actually 79 years old. that's right. >> prayers to her family and of course all her fans around the world. we're back after these messages.
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she was 79, surrounded by family members and had been battling congestive heart failure for some time now. nobody knew it was something so serious at this particular time. >> we were mentioning her work regarding hiv/aids. interesting to note her family in lieu of flowers is asking that any contributions be made to one of the organizations being -- the elizabethtayloraidsfoundation. org. if you want to send personal messages, the family is asking for you to log on to facebook.c facebook.com. i'm sure a lot of people will write about their memories of watching her on screen. >> she was honored recently for her pioneering work in hiv/aids. obviously she had not been feeling well. she wasn't there. so she was really missed.
>> there will be a lot of reaction to her passing throughout the day. we have jess kagal on from "entertainment weekly" good morning. >> good morning. we can look at her life in so many ways from her work in hollywood in the acting world to, of course, we have been talking about the business side of her and the philanthropic side. what's your reaction? >> i think there's probably never been a star that people -- that so many generations were so personally invested in. i mean, she was -- you know, her private life during the '50s on through the '60s when she was married to richard burton, many marriages. she was also a really good actress. she didn't do that many great movies, but there were a few amazing ones. as she got older and built this, you know, empire with perfume,
as she especially went on to be the first smopokesperson for hiv/aids patients, fighting for their rights, for attention. as you said on the show, at a time when nobody would touch that. at a time when the president wouldn't say it aloud she was out fighting the good fight. she was an extraordinary woman, extraordinary star. >> we had elton john on not long ago. i was complimenting him on his work raising money for aids and people with hiv. he stopped me and said, you know, i'm trying to catch up because i was blind to it. i wasn't there when people needed me in the beginning. it was elizabeth taylor who woke me up and got my attention. >> that's exactly right. it wasn't just the public. it was people in hollywood. it was gay friends of hers.
she was really sounding this alarm bell at a time when, i hate to say, it was so not cool to do that. she really showed incredible grand valley bravery. we look at the marriages and extravagant life and all that. she was -- we forget the amazing work she did. >> you know, jess, i'm trying to remember -- and i hope i'm not mistaken, but if i'm correct i believe she was a good friend of rock hudson. >> she was. >> that may have led to her work with aids. it's interesting that she's so courageous in this work. one reason why you talk about people connecting with her, she had a deep fragility in her work and also in life. the comparison between this amazing courage and this deep fragility, they were embodied in one woman. >> i think that the courage came -- and you're right.
she was -- she always spoke her mind. she was very funny in person. i interviewed her once at her home which was just fascinating because she was -- you know, it was like going to your grandmother's house if your grandmother had a billion dollars. very down-to-earth. very funny, warm. but you also knew you were in the presence of a huge star. i think that the courage came a lot from being a child star. we forget she became world famous at a very, very early age. she married the first time very, very young. she lived a life that truly nobody but elizabeth taylor could completely have lived. >> right. i remember meeting her at malcolm forbes' house back probably 19, 20 years ago.
she was probably approaching 60. we set up cameras to do an interview. this is a completely different era, but every guy on the shoot stopped and took a deep breath. she was magnificent. the beauty was astonishing. >> her beauty was astonishing, even when she was -- i interviewed her -- i think when i met her she was mid to late '70s already. she just -- those eyes were still that incredible violet. they still really sparkled. i honestly don't know. i think in the next few weeks we'll see a lot of photos of her when she was in her prime. it may be that there was never a more beautiful actress or at least a more photogenic one. >> jess, thank you so much for your perspective and knowledge about this. it's really been helpful. thank you so much. i think we'll continue our coverage coming up right after
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and we have some sad news to report this morning. the hollywood legendary elizabeth taylor has died of congestive heart failure after being hospitalized for about six weeks. a wonderful actress and also an amazing champion for awareness about hiv/aids. >> a very important person who's now left us. >> that's right. we have been talking just about how much she affected people when it came to her career and her dedication to those humanitarian causes. we have peter castor, the managing editor of "people" magazine joining us on the phone now. peter, i can't think of a bigger
star and perhaps a bigger loss in hollywood today. would you agree? >> i would absolutely agree with that. it's almost cliche to say she was a cultural touchstone like elvis and marilyn and sinatra, but she was. i can't think of anyone else that falls into that category. her friend carol sayer said she's the closest thing this country had to royalty. >> peter, in 1985 she joined with dr. ma tilda creme to form amfar. that will be as big a part of her legacy as we go forward. >> you know, al, she didn't have to do that. she was already an established star. she already had an enormous amount of respect and adoration and love. jeff was on and said it was an act of bravery and that was what
it was. it can't be described as anything else. she lit the spark in this country for awareness. she gave it credibility, awareness and made americans think for the first time that, wait, this is something that's much bigger and does affect us all despite our sexual orientation. >> we should probably remind people what that time was like. she basically came out and said these things at a time when people actually said publically that aids was god's wrath on people and when people were afraid to touch people who had hiv/aids. so when she came out and said this and she helped support the founding of amfar, an important organization that's funded research, she really changed our culture. >> you know, ann, i think you're absolutely right. let's not forget this is a woman who, for better or worse, was never afraid to shock people.
i mean, she had her scandalous moments and shocked the country when she took up with eddie fisher, but she was used to taking on the public and used to taking on controversy. in this case, very much unlike the romantic scandal she had in her past, in this case this was a controversy she was ready to take on. she had her gloves on and was ready to go. we are all grateful for that. >> peter, natalie here. we also know she was such -- speaking of somebody who always stood in front of an important cause and who really believed and stood by her friends, here was somebody who to his death stayed right by michael jackson to the very end given all that he went through as well. talk about that a little bit as well, the fact that she was such a loyal friend to him. >> again, echoing what i said a little while ago, she was never
afraid to take on controversy. you know, she adored her public but was never guided by public opinion. that was a case in point where a lot of people thought you should really distance yourself from this guy. but she was not like that. she was about loyalty. unfortunately, you know, in many of her marriages she encountered disloyalty. i don't mean to play amateur psychologist, but maybe her sense of loyalty came from the many marriages and the disloyalty she encountered in those. >> you know, peter, one of her quotes was, you find out who your real friends are when you're involved in a scandal. she obviously lived through those kinds of things and knew what it was like to go through it which is why she was probably such a loyal friend. >> absolutely. in all of this, we talk about scandal and everything. let's not forget how much grace she had, too. i think there was a low point in her life during her marriage with john warner where he wasn't
around a lot. he spent time in the senate and she said, i became my only eating companion and she gained a lot of weight. this was really a low point in her life. but she always met any kind of challenge with the utmost grace. >> i'm reading notes from our researchers. i didn't know she was a dame of the british empire. >> dame elizabeth. >> also earned the french legion of honor and received humanitarian awards, of course, for her work. she's quoted as having said, i have dedicated my efforts above all to the thousands of men, women and children throughout the world who have died of aids or are currently fighting for their lives. then she also later on said, celebrity is not something that comes without responsibility. >> beautifully said. >> it's a beautiful statement. don't forget she spent her first seven years of life in england. she grew up there, came here and
became a hollywood star. she always had an attachment to england. her best friend roddy mcdowel is english. it was dear to her heart. the causes were very important to her. i'm so glad part of the conversation today beyond the looks, talent and the oscars is focused so much on her embracing aids and trying to, you know, eradicate it from this culture. >> i bet she would be proud of that as well. peter, one thing i have been curious about with elizabeth taylor, it's revealed in her work and it seems also for those who met her, they talked about this as well. she was also an incredibly -- she seemed anyway, kind of tender, vulnerable. i was using the word earlier --
from fragile. do we have a history to explain the dichotomy? her courage in stepping up and speaking out for those who have hiv/aids and yet at the same time this kind of vulnerability she had which revealed itself in so many ways. >> that's an excellent question, ann. she didn't have the greatest relationship with her father especially. and, you know, when she was 18 she married nicky hilton, paris hilton's great uncle. he was abusive to her. apparently had a physical altercation that led to a miscarriage. she was really used to pain at a very early age. i think that made her vulnerable. we are preparing a 15-page obit package on her and there is one quote that comes out of this that's so haunting. it says, you know, i have been lucky all my life. everything was handed to me, looks, fame, honors, love. this is in 1992 in "life" but
she said, i have paid for that with terrible illness, destructive addictions, broken marriages. to your point she was vulnerable but had great reason to be. >> we talk about her being married eight times. two of those times were to the person she describes as the love of her life, richard burton. talk about that relationship if you could. >> well, you know, if i could be a fly on the wall for some of the days during those marriages. i mean, you're right. he was the love of her life. boy, did they fight. and they broke up and got back together. you know, she said something that was something only she could say. she said, you know, i wonder -- after he died -- i wonder if we just loved each other too much. it's an extraordinary statement. but he was the love of her life. you know, when they met on the set of "cleopatra" sparks were
flying left and right. we shouldn't forget mike todd. he was the second love of her life. 25 years her senior. i think he was 49 or 50 and she was just 25 when they married. she absolutely adored him. they were married only a little over a year and he tragically died in a plane crash. after richard burton i would say he was right up there. >> in fact, ironically the name of the plane he died in was called "the lucky liz." >> wow. >> there are a lot of ironies in her case. well, gosh. thank you so much peter castro from "people" magazine. you have been able to give us a lot of great perspective. >> thank you very much. >> we'll have much more on elizabeth taylor throughout the rest of the morning as well. now a check of the weather for us, al. >> here in northeast we have snow, rain, risk of strong storms in the upper ohio river valley. could be isolated tornadoes. our friends out west have been
dealing with a lot of heavy rain. they will get more today and probably flash flooding as well. tomorrow the heavy rain continues along the west coast. the ground is super saturated already. eastern half of the country looking decent. a few leftover snowshowers in the northeast. sunny and warm gulf coast to texas with heat. we have showers through the northern rockies. >> we are in a stall for intermittent rainfall and showers and maybe a thunderstorm. cooler, a 52-2 p5. and that's your latest weather. >> thank you, al. much more on the reaction to the death of actress elizabeth taylor after these messages. 3 o'clock. my daily meeting with a salty snack
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you are so sweet to me. [bell tolls] - to best serve your customers, you have to know them. personally. only a local agent can do that. [click, motor hums] - doug pierce. lives in tornado alley. - hobby? - collects stamps. - excellent. - annette thompson. small business owner. hates cantaloupe. - good. - the lee family: twins. with another on the way. - mazel tov. - that's meatloaf. - hmm. [click] that's still meatloaf. - very good. moving on. - we are insurance. - ♪ we are farmers ♪ bum di bum bum bum bum bum ♪ fans in the entertainment industry are mourning the death of elizabeth taylor who died this morning in los angeles at the age of 79 years old. >> she was surrounded by friends and family. her son michael wilding summed up her extraordinary life in a statement. he writes, her legacy will never fade. her spirit will always be with us and her love will live
forever in our hearts. courtney hazel is a pop culture correspondent for today.com. we were talking about how she really across the board, across so many generations was a star of a lifetime really. >> she was. >> started at 12 years old in the industry. >> i think, you know, we spend so much today trying to figure out celebrity and why we care and why we like to look up to movie stars. i think elizabeth taylor represents one of the last of the old guard where you could become a child star and live the american dream. so many little girls grew up thinking, i will be an actress, have a husband -- or in her case husbands -- i will have jewels, live a fabulous life. that's what elizabeth taylor did. she was able to weather so many scandals so elegantly. one of the things i'm happy to see today as media outlets remember her and looking an twitter and the internet, i'm happy that despite the scandal people are remembering her for
her work and her charity work. there are few celebrities who have really made such an impact like elizabeth taylor has. >> you mentioned intergenerational. this is a woman on twitter. >> she has more than 300,000 twitter followers. in 2009 she had surgery to repair a leaking heart valve. after the surgery she was tweeting to fans saying, listen, i'm okay. when i was calling to check with her publicist he said sh listen, if dame elizabeth has something to say, she'll say it on twitter and hung up on me. she was a savvy woman. she got it. she understood the business she was in. tood thehe risks as well. >> we were talking about one of the last times she was seen publically was at the funeral of michael jackson. really since then her health took a turn. we know she had congestive heart failurure, but it sounds like fm the statement released by her family they thought she was getting better, at least her condition had stabilized. she was in the hospital. >> the most recent round of fear
for her health took place in february when she was meant to be honored at the amfar dinner and she was unable to go. people said, is her health declining? and there was worry. her publicist said, no, she's fine. it was a picture of her leaving the dentist's office in a wheelchair. but there were greater problems. she's had both hips replaced, skin cancer, life-threatening bouts of pneumonia, a brain tumor. >> she's been resilient. sadly the world lost perhaps its greatest star and legend in hollywood today. how is the hollywood community reacting? i imagine there is an outpouring of love. >> an absolute outpouring of love. when hollywood loses one of its own it causes everyone in hollywood to be introspective. if you're a big celebrity you're seeing in some ways your obituary as well and seeing it play out. in hollywood you can have a false sense of being invincible.
that's what we accuse young stars of having that problem. when you see someone so iconic who incited so much passion pass away, it's difficult to watch. >> courtney, thank you as always. >> we'll be back with more on the life of elizabeth taylor and photos of her 79th birthday after these messages. heaven comes to earth. rich, creamy, thick dannon greek, the most delicious yogurt imaginable.
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lot about elizabeth taylor. also her spirituality. she said, i believe in a higher power. i believe in one god. i'm so glad i asked for help. she said you need to also give up yourself. >> she's remarkable. elizabeth taylor as we remember the legend she is and was. we have a picture from her 79th birthday. this was just a couple of months ago before her health took a turn for the worse. as we learned today she passed away at 79 surrounded by her family, her children, her grandchildren and sadly the world has lost a legend who has given us all so much. >> we'll be back with more on the death of a legend. first this is "today" on nbc.
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